Quatre Bras demi
After trying out BlackPowder in 15mm this time we rolled out the old and (t)rusted 25mm figs. Old indeed, and grumpy too. After some 25 years in the box – 1 mm per year – they saw the light of day again. Things had changed. New rules and new colleagues as well who seem to have much less weight on their bones? Ah, the envy in their eyes, and not to forget the arrogance in their tin filled chests. We’ll show those “light” infantry lads a bit of fighting, show them how it’s done and teach them to respect us that have walked the wargame tables of SPUT, of D-Days and Ducosim conventions in times long gone.
We decided on a scenario that was loosely based on the events at Quatre Bras. The table this time was 180 x 360 and because we did not have enough roads the crossroad was reduced to a road passing the village; hence Quatre Bras demi. The armies were more or less equal with both having 16 battalions each organized in 4 brigades of 4 battalions. Both armies also had 2 regiments of horse which were put into the care of the general and to be used according to his own brilliant judgment. Finally both armies received 2 batteries in support. We kept things simple.
For deployment the table was segmented in 4 equal 90cm parts – named A to D from the French side to the allied side - across its full length. Quatre bras demi was at the border between part C and D. The allies were allowed to deploy 2 brigades in part C whole the remainder of their force started off table in delayed reserve (for this familiar with flames of war). The French were allowed to start with 3 brigades on table – 1 in part B and 2 in part A – and 1 would start off table in reserve (again for this familiar with flames of war). The victory condition was for the French to have no allied unit within 12” of the other side of the Namur – Charleroi road at the end of the game. Since Ney did drag his feet that day it was proposed to give the French a 7 for command dice. However, a fierce discussion reduced this to only Ney having this score, i.e. his brigadiers would have to fend for themselves this day. (Still, I’d be interested to learn peoples opinion on this)
Initially the idea was to start with 2 Dutch brigades on the table but since one of the intended commanders was undutchably late we changed to the British having the honor of drawing first blood. One of the brigades was deployed in line across the front of Quartre bras demi and a tiny detachment of the 95th occupied a farm more to the left-front and the Frogs. The second British brigade deployed in the woods to the right of Quatre bras demi. The French had a pretty straightforward deployment: 2 brigades would hit the woods and 1 would try to take the farm defended by the 95th. The reserve successfully entered the table in turn 1 and then threw only 11s! All the discussions, all the emotions about a command score of 7 or not: gone, what a waste! If only they would have thrown a 12 and blundered forwards, but it was not to be.
What was interesting to see was the fight for the farm. The French threw good command dice in turn 1 and flung themselves on its walls. Some well aimed shots resulted in 1 disordered French battalion and in the ensuing combat the 95th prevailed. BUAs can be tough nuts to crack in Blackpowder. All the French units passed their motivation test and clung to the loopholes, rain pipes and window shutters of the farm. The whole fight for the farm lasted several bounds and drained 1 of the French battalions of all its blood and the others were seriously weakened at the end. Still, the 95th did eventually horribly fail a motivation test after a round of combat that was lost and they broke.
On the other flank all the fighting happened in the woods and so basically came down to “skirmishing” line infantrymen bayoneting each other. It was a coming and going of battalions and in the end both sides lost a full brigade down there. When 1 of the British units was pushed out of the woods towards Quatre bras demo the allied general decided to give a silly-Billy order. The rightmost infantry battalion of the brigade in front of Quatre bras demi was order forwards at a moment that the other units of that brigade advanced backwards on their own initiative because the farm had just been lost. The unit advancing forwards was then hit by a stroke of good luck in the hands of the French artillery men, suffered 3 excess hits, failed their test and broke. A truly great move because this is the first time that wargame rules give a C-in-C in a multiplayer game the right to overrule a subordinate player and do something that make him look at you in a way that… well, says it all!
By then both armies – and perhaps we did something not entirely right, but anyway – broke because both had 2 broken brigades. All in all a good fight and a result within 1 evening by 8 players. That surely was something the old 25mm tin Grognards had not experienced before.